Make extra time for this task and your future self will thank you.
A woman rolling a suitcase outside
Credit: Getty Images / Images By Tang Ming Tung

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

Ready or not, the holiday season is here. For many of us, that might mean there is a trip in our future. After last year, I will never take for granted an opportunity to visit my family in a different state, but that doesn't mean that I'm totally stress-free when it comes to travel. Taking a trip involves a lot of planning and preparation, whether it's for a holiday gathering or just a vacation. And sometimes, it can leave me feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation. Before my Thanksgiving trip to my parents house this year, I discovered the one thing that saved me major travel-related stress. 

In the morning before I left, I cleaned my entire apartment. I did all the dishes, changed all the sheets and towels, vacuumed the floors and wiped virtually every surface in the house (tell me you're a Virgo without telling me you're a Virgo, I know). While this took a little bit of extra time on the front end, it was well worth it for the peace of mind. When I arrived back home late on Sunday night after a long drive, the place was spotless, just like I left it. I'm usually a person who cleans on Sunday night or Monday mornings, so this was one less thing to do before starting a new week. It was as if I had already gotten a jump on my weekly to-do list, which helped me feel more organized and less overwhelmed. 

I'll admit I live in a one-bedroom apartment so deep cleaning the whole thing is only about an hour commitment (one of the few perks of having such a small space). If I had a larger family home, a thorough clean while trying to get packed and organized might not be as realistic. That said, even just cleaning highly used spaces like the kitchen (especially these surprisingly dirty places), bathroom(s) and bedroom before leaving will help get you ahead when you return.